Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Job Interview for Darryl

Darryl left today for his interview. He kept putting off leaving because he said he had a bad feeling. He said, "I feel something bad is going to happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it." That is highly unusual for Darryl to say he had a bad feeling. I wish he hadn't said that.

The interview took place in a city called Thomasville. It is near the Florida line not far from Tallahassee. If he gets the job it will be a step up for him and more in line with what he wants to do. We would be apart for at least this school year. I hate that.

I spent most of the day working on sweeps and of course ThriftyMaven.

I'm still following the Billings murder which gets stranger as each day passes by. It just doesn't make sense. People naturally want to blame the victims and try to find something about them that caused such a tragic thing to happen to them. I never understood that "Blame The Victim" mentality until someone finally explained it to me. You see when something like this happens or something like 911 happens you realize that your life could end in one violent moment and that is a frightening thing to comprehend. You mind seeks to calm you by saying, "Sure that happened to them but that person....." or "If I had been in one of those planes I would have...." It's kind of like a bedtime story you tell yourself. This happened to them but it would never happen to me. The fact is bad things do happen to good people.

Why would well-practiced thieves target a home with a security camera in every room? Who was Byrd Billings? And what does Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan mean when he says investigators expect motives to emerge beyond simple robbery?

Interviews and court records portray Byrd Billings as a former strip club owner-turned used car dealer who was once sentenced to probation for an adoption scam. He frequently crossed paths with "shady characters," according to an ex-wife, but police have offered no evidence linking his past to the killings.

Known around Pensacola as "Bud," Byrd Billings spent his early years in Mississippi and Tennessee. He owned a car dealership in Mississippi in the 1980s, and incorporated a boat company in 1976. The corporation was dissolved in the 1980s.

In divorce records from the end of his second marriage, in 1993, Billings reported a net worth of just $1,400, including total cash assets of $100 and a net monthly income of $1,190. Four months after the divorce, Melanie became his third wife.

They were living in a $700,000 home -- opulent by Pensacola standards -- and associates say they employed several people to care for the children. But how they got there is unclear.

Byrd's background also includes a strange criminal case. In 1990, he and his second wife, Cindy Reeve, pleaded nolo contendere -- which means they did not admit guilt but agreed to a punishment -- to charges they doctored birth records and tried to obtain a newborn for $2,100. They both received two years probation which was later amended to a year.

At the time of their divorce, the documents show, Billings was a consultant for Back Seat Inc., a holding company for a topless bar, which opened in 1990 and no longer exists. He had owned the company at one time. Arety Kapatanis, owner of the Pensacola strip club Arety's Angels, said Billings hired her as a waitress.

"Bud Billings was a man of integrity. He was generous," Kapatanis said. "He ran his business in the most professional manner."

Billings later opened a used car lot, which according to state business records was registered to Melanie and her daughter, Ashley Markham. It sits on a worn-out slab, surrounded by pawn shops and bail bond companies. Next door is the Billings' Worldco Financial Services.

Melanie, in her second marriage, seemed to thrive helping disabled children.

"Their lives centered around children, their family and each other," said her brother, Ed Brock. "They loved deeply and unconditionally. They embraced the complexity of raising children with special needs and they were their advocates. They gave these children a joyous childhood and a much needed voice."

On her MySpace page, Melanie Billings said she was a "total Internet and ebay JUNKIE" and that her favorite song was "I Cross My Heart," by country music star George Strait. She loved the TV shows "CSI," ''Law & Order" and "The Sopranos."

The MySpace page also showed photos of some of the couple's 17 children (13 adopted together and four biological children from previous marriages.) Three had died over the years

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